Tomorrow I’m invited to speak to residents at a local nursing home. As I reflected on how to present a Vietnam War memoir to a group of World War II era citizens, I decided that I should focus on a formative event from their past. I will mention Muddy Jungle Rivers but then I will read a few letters written in 1943 and 1944.
My grandfather served as an Army officer in WWI and WWII. By 1942 he was 48 years old but was recalled to active duty as a training officer. He was first stationed at Camp Maxey, Texas, where he took raw recruits from farms and cities through recruit and advanced infantryman training. Later he transferred to Camp Shanks, New York where he escorted troop battalions on convoy crossings in the North Atlantic. December 1944, his ship was mined. It sank in Antwerp Harbor.
These two letters are representative of the living conditions and angst of the men during those years.
1943-01-26 Camp Maxey, Texas—northeast corner of Texas near the Oklahoma border. While stored in the Chickenhouse, mice gnawed the top of this envalope and damaged the first line on each page of the letter.
1944-10-19 My grandfather’s V-Mail letter to his wife from a North Atlantic troop convoy ship, about five weeks before his ship sank.